MUSICAL REINVENTION AFTER CHANGE OR RETIREMENT -- SOMETIMES BY OTHERS!
Updated: Oct 13
Intended or unintended periods of major change that are inevitable throughout our very-human lives can result in beneficial -- or detrimental -- results. We can find unexpected rainbows during those times and after, especially if we keep an optimistic attitude.*
Andrew Lloyd Webber, famed British composer, is apparently going through one of those times right now. Webber (and for some pieces, a few other lyricists such as Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe in "All I Ask of You") wrote the music to my very favorite-of-all-time Broadway musicals, "Phantom of the Opera."
I saw it onstage in New York many years ago and have never forgotten the enormous impact of the music, performance, staging, costumes, and props including "Ruthie II," the chandelier named after (director) Hal Prince's longtime assistant, Ruth Mitchell.
Webber is not everyone's favorite music composer to be sure, often called "overly-sentimental." I'm seen him dissed on that account a fair number of times, but I disagree.
Could it be because I adore and resonate most to the passionate, disturbing, and emotionally evocative music of the Romantic era? (LOL) So for one, I hope Webber never, ever "retires" from his composing profession. ("Come What May" composed by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert from the movie Moulin Rouge and of course, Webber's "Memory" from "Cats" always rip me apart! "Dewdrop" does too, painted from a picture I took of him while volunteering at our local Animal Shelter.)
Gratefully, at the "old"? age of 75, Webber says that "in the latter days of my composing life" he will concentrate "on creating and writing."
Point being that Webber exhibits a large amount of grace to let go of 44 years of Broadway performances of "Phantom" to allow others access to re-invent that, and other of his musicals. "Why not?" he asks, and says "you just can't sit on these things."
Interesting, but on my part there shall never be a comparable night for musical excitement on the stage than when about 40 years ago I saw "Phantom." I was visiting alone in the grand city of New York, walking into the Broadway theater to hear and see my first Webber musical, meet "Ruthie," and wince as she came crashing down from the ceiling, almost into my lap!
Nothing will ever equal this collection of songs in a truly American musical genre; it all comes together to pull at my heart strings, or thrill and titillate me with barely hidden BDSM images in song and story of the Phantom's mysterious, hypnotic control of his submissive, willing, and lithe song-bird victim.
With apologies to much-loved Schumann with his gorgeous but pale-by-comparison lieds, or love pieces composed for Clara, or those compositions Liszt extravagantly played for his adoring female groupies,* nothing will excel "All I Ask of You," one of -- or to me "the" -- most gorgeous, inspired love songs in music and lyrics ever written. It always makes me cry...
Chapeau to Webber -- and may he live forever!
* * *
*NOTE TO SELF
I live an excited life. They say
Good for youth, but not for old.
“Polyanna One!” Joan* said to me,
“Perhaps” I said, “at least I’m bold!”
At least I love, I play, I feel
And hope and pray and sometimes fail.
As years go on, at least I have
Sterling stories to regale.
Adventures many, truth I sought,
And valued much, intelligence.
But came it from these: mind and soul
And body, together, all made sense.
So still excited as I go,
Eyes open but in wonderment,
Loving those who cross my path
With love. And so a life, well spent!
*Joan Nelson, MFCC, friend and former therapist
They said he thrilled ladies with his tempo,
They'd swoon and toss panties* at his legato,
He'd tinkle the keys
Their harmony to please,
As they admired his prodigious rubato.
*To avoid confusion, Arthur Loesser reports that
ladies actually flung their jewels on the stage,
Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History. Nonetheless,
Liszt was obviously quite the ladies' man.
READY TO RETIRE*
What tipped the boat over that you decided to move over and out and allow someone else to thrive or suffer or whatever one does when working for The Man?
Jump in–it’s fun to swim! Take a chance on the chance you’ll love it! Tell that boss to just go “shove it”– walk out the door–no, run out then shout “I’m free” to just be me!
(“Oh wait...I’ve got to figure out how to ‘be me’ now that I’m free... But so be it; I’m done, I’m gone, I’m on to something new. For sure I’ll happy be, to feel so free to just be...me!”)
*Inspired when my friend J.B. told me he was ready to retire.
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